The Last Goodbye Revisited

Grief is a funny thing. As a pastor, I’ve read about grief, I’ve studied it and I’ve watched people go through it. Yet, I am still surprised. I was surprised this morning to find myself in tears after a dream I had about my father. My father died in September. Here it is in May and I thought I was finished with grief. I was wrong.

One of the principles of Adrian van Kaam’s Formative Spirituality is appraisal. Van Kaam’s science maintains that everything is important. Even the most mundane and boring moments in our lives are pregnant with God’s formative potential. So, whenever an event happens, we pause and ask ourselves “what is going on here?” Living out a Formation Theology means not allowing events to pass through our fingers without appraising it in light of formation journey.

I did that this morning. After the dream and the tears I asked myself, “Why?” Why now? What’s going on that I would dream about my father who died in September? I thought I was over my grief. I thought it was all in my past. Why would I have such a dream now?

I’m not sure I fully have the answers to that, but what I have realized is that since my father’s death I have been extremely busy. That explains why the last post on this site is from January. I began wondering if my grief and my busyness were related. Could it be that I have been trying to numb real pain and feelings of loss by filling my schedule with important, but time consuming, activities? Could this explain why I have been struggling with spending time in silence?

Even though I wouldn’t call the relationship I had with my dad “close” or “nurturing” he was still an important (although at times neglected) part of my life. As Formative Science would point out, he was an integral part of my “formation field” which has a great impact on who I become as a person. He had been placed in my life to help me become who I was created to be. God used both the positive and negative aspects of our relationship to form me into….me.

I’m still appraising this event and I’m sure there is more depth here than what I realize at this point. Nevertheless, if you are reading this, I encourage you to spend time appraising the events in your life. Don’t allow the events of your life to slip through your fingers. You are always being formed by those events. They affect you and effect you in both positive and negative ways. All of these events are gifts and are provided so you might become who you were meant to be. That is your journey and your task.

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